Summary: The goal of this message is to show that A life of contentment is being committed to marginal living.
A Forgotten Word in the 21st Century
There are a number of words that are not forgotten in our 21st Century culture: Success – “How to achieve and maintain success” is a popular subject. “Bull” and “Bear” are topics that are debated. Power, Popularity, Poverty, Rich, Pluralism, are not forgotten words. There are many forgotten words in the 21st Century. Some of them might be, “Holiness, Integrity, Truth, Kindness, Compassion, and others.” The word that I’m thinking about this morning is a word that the Apostle Paul applied to his life and ministry. The word is contentment. Paul said: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Phil. 4: 11-12
Did the Apostle Paul write about “contentment” from a comfortable living room while watching football on ESPN while eating popcorn and drinking Mediterranean Sarsaparilla? No he was writing from a dark, damp, prison! Paul had found the key to contentment that was not linked to physical or material comforts.
In America we are surrounded by discontent. Advertisers tell you that you cannot be content unless you buy a new car, a new computer, a new home and take an annual trip to Hawaii. Skillfully directed advertising causes a blur between needs, wants, necessities and luxuries. We need to be able to say with the Psalmist: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need.” Psalm 23:1
What is the problem? We have added so much to our lives that our lives our out of balance and overloaded. What happens when you get overloaded?
Here’s a picture of what happens when a cart is overloaded. #PP When one box too many is put in a cart it cart lifts the donkey into the air. When overloaded you loose your footing. Your life becomes out of balance.
Dr. Richard Swenson, M.D. describes in his book, “Margin” restoring emotional, physical, financial and time reserves to overloaded lives”, that the “so called” progress in the world is not that much progress at all. The progress has caused added stress to everyone.
If technology has made so much advancement in peoples’ lives then why do so many drink and take drugs to forget their problems? Why are we divorcing and suing at such rates? Why are people killing themselves, and others in such numbers?
Forty years ago our nation’s school children were being disciplined for talking, chewing gum, making noise, and running in the halls. Today, the biggest problems are guns in school, rape, robbery, assault, vandalism and drug abuse.
Eighty years ago we had no national debt. Today we have a multitrillion-dollar debt. One hundred years ago we had fresh air and clean lakes. Two hundred years ago we had lush forests and thick prairies. Today our forests are being threatened by acid rain and our prairies are being flushed down the Mississippi.
All the progress down through the years seems to do nothing but bring on more stress.
Years ago the Chicago bears had a fun game (to the big guys) they played in the locker room. David Tate, a 180 pound member of the defensive secondary told about the pain of being “squashed” in 1990. The Bears huge defensive linemen would one of the smaller players and start moving to circle one of the defensive backs. Some of the defensive back that were fast could get out of the attack and escape. David Tate said that on one occasion he was trapped. He was dropped to the ground and the 320 pound William “Refrigerator” Perry collapsed on top of him. Then 270 pound Richard dent, 275 pound Dan Hampton, and 270 pound Steve McMichael jumped on top, 1,135 pounds of pain.
Tate said, ‘I don’t think the linemen know how heavy they are. Once you’ve gotten squashed, you avoid it al all costs even if it means backing down.
With all the linemen piled high on a defensive back you have a picture of a life overloaded. Overloading happen when you add one more thing to your life than you can handle. God created people and animals to carry only so heavy a load.
A camel is able to carry great loads. But if you place an article on a camel that is maximally loaded down its back will be broken. A camel’s back is not broken by the proverbial straw. It is broken by overload.
An overloaded life is a discontented life.
What is the secret to a contented life?
A life of contentment is committed to marginal living.
To have margin in your life is to have reserves beyond what you need. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating. Margin is opposite of overload.